An outtake from The Legend of Captain Killian Jones verse, written for the Spooktober prompts: defamiliarize the familiar, best start believin' in ghost stories, and light from beneath.
Emma walked distractedly down the corridor, a thousand different thoughts and reminders swirling through her brain after the long first day of reconstruction on the Jones Manor. A flicker of light in her periphery had her stopping short in front of the Captain's study. The soft glow of candlelight permeated its way from under the door, and Emma sighed exasperatedly.
"This place did not survive the past three hundred years only to burn down from an unattended flame," she groused, twisting the door's knob with frustrated force only to find it locked. Another flare of agitation rose within her. She had specifically told everyone to make sure all the doors remained unlocked until they ensured all the house keys were accounted for.
Emma studied the handle and lock design, hoping it might hold a clue as to what the key might look like. The manor's curator had left her with a box of keys, and with any luck there would be one in there that matched the ornate handle. She returned several moments later with a contender, light still flickering through the gap below the door as she inserted the key. Emma gave a small triumphal huff when she heard the tumblers click, and turned the knob to gain access to the room.
The sputtering taper cast a warm glow around the wood rich room from its place on the built in credenza and bookcase behind the heavy oak desk. Emma strode over to the flame, took in a breath, and puckered her lips, but something else snuffed out the candle before she could blow the air from her lungs. With furrowed brows, she watched the waft of smoke ascend straight up, no evidence of which direction the breeze had come from. She held her hand out over the candle in an attempt to track down the draft, but felt nothing.
Well, almost nothing.
The hairs on her arm began to raise and the sensation ran upward to the back of her neck. She took in a sharp breath and the smell of an ocean breeze filled her sinuses along with notes of leather and spice. Her lips parted briefly and she whipped her head around to survey the room as the feeling that she was no longer alone washed over her.
"David?" she called out into the darkness, the room now illuminated by only the faint rays of moonlight filtering in through the study's grimey windows. "Henry are you there?" she questioned when her first didn't garner a response.
The scent grew stronger, its pungent yet soothing bouquet intoxicating her senses and causing her body to respond in a completely different way than before. Emma felt breathless and warm. She closed her eyes in order to focus on steadying herself when she felt a tingling sensation break out across her scalp, as if someone were stroking her hair. A shiver of wonder trembled through her and she grabbed onto the edge of the desk for support.
"I'm overly tired," she told herself. "I must have pushed too hard today." She shook her head to clear the fog clouding her mind, caused by the still present scent, and took quick steps towards the door, crossing the threshold and slamming the room closed behind her.
Her chest heaved as she stood in the corridor, the key to the study gripped tightly in her hand, its sharp edges imprinting into her palm. What the hell had just happened?
"There you are!"
Emma jumped at the sound of the curator's voice, and the pinging sound of metal hitting wood rang throughout the study as the room's key fell to the floor from her hand.
"Sorry," the woman apologized sheepishly. "I didn't mean to startle you."
"No, you're fine," Emma waved off. "I'm just…" She let her words trail off, unwilling to give her feelings a voice. What would she say anyway? That she was still unnerved by her experience from the night before in that very study? There was a perfectly rational explanation for the strange occurrences, and Emma had awoken that morning determined to find them.
"What exactly are you doing up there?" the curator chortled, and Emma had to admit that she must look quite a sight perched on the bookcase ladder with the tapered candle from the credenza in her hand.
"I'm looking for drafts," she responded, resetting her shoulders and taking on a pragmatic posture as she explained, "I came in here last night to blow out a candle that had been left unattended, but it went out before I could. Then I got an overwhelming scent of ocean, so I figure there must be a seal busted on one of these windows." At least, that was the theory she'd come up with over breakfast. So far her efforts to find the source of the draft had returned void.
"You don't say," the curator smirked knowingly. "You know… legend says that Captain Jones' ghost is very protective of his study. Perhaps he's the one who-"
Emma interrupted her with a rather undignified snort. She didn't mean to be rude, but the idea that what she'd experienced last night had been because of the presence of a ghost was absolutely ludicrous. No. She'd been over tired, and even though she did not believe in the supernatural, she had allowed the creepy atmosphere of the manor to send her imagination into overdrive. It happened to everyone. There were no ghosts. Especially a devilishly handsome privateer captain whose portrait Emma may or may not have visited in the attic before returning to the study to begin her investigation. After she had located the key again, that is. How she'd ended up leaving it in the kitchen when she didn't even remember going there before bed, she'll never know.
"Well, ghost or no ghost, Captain Jones was a real person, and I found those old documents pertaining to his disappearance I told you about. Would you like me to leave them in here with you, or put them somewhere else?"
"On my desk downstairs is fine," Emma instructed. The curator left to go drop the file packet off while Emma finished examining the final few windows. Not even a tremor passed over the flame, which meant there were no broken seals, no plausible explanation for the candle blowing out the night before.
Emma sighed and climbed down off the ladder. Setting the candle on the desk, she bent down to pick up the key to the study that had fallen to the floor earlier… but it wasn't there. She circled in place, searching the area at her feet before getting down on all fours and peering under the desk.
"Lose something?" the curator's voice chimed out, startling Emma once again.
Ugh… that woman needs a bell or something.
"The key," Emma answered. "I dropped it right here, but now it's gone."
"I wouldn't worry, too much. I'm sure it'll turn up." Another mysteriously teasing smirk pulled at the curator's lips, and Emma chose to admit defeat for the moment so she could excuse herself from the irritating woman and the equally irritating room.
Picking herself up off the floor, she bent over to blow out the candle on the desk, but just as it had the night before, it extinguished without any assistance from her. Her eyes widened and snapped up to lock with the curator's, whose didn't even hold a hint of surprise in response to the strange phenomena. The woman opened her mouth, and Emma already knew what she was about to say. Holding up her hand, she stayed the woman's comment and stormed out of the room to go check in with David.
Killian twirled the key between his fingers, a smile playing at his lips as he watched the feisty blonde beauty leave his study in a huff. Something that sounded like, there's no such things as ghosts grumbled past her beautiful lips as she stalked down the hallway. He wasn't overly fond of the living having access to his private study, but for this Emma Swan woman he might be willing to make an exception. There was something that drew him to her like a moth would be to the flame he'd now extinguished twice with his own… well, not breath. Not really. More of a manipulation of the air around him.
Slipping the key into the pocket of his great coat, Killian began to consider other possible hiding places for it. He'd so enjoyed watching her get all riled up that morning when she couldn't readily find it where she knew she'd left it. Almost as much as he'd enjoyed watching her trying to rationalize their encounter from the night before.
He wondered how long she could continue to make excuses for his presence?
At some point during his musings he found himself in her presence again. He sank back into the shadows and watched as she talked with her boy. Every so often the lad's eyes would flick to the corner he was occupying. Like every other living soul, the boy wouldn't be able to see him, but Killian knew that children tended to be more sensitive to his presence than adults, so he maintained his distance and kept his focus on the lad's mother.
"Henry," the Swan woman exasperated. "I've already told you that the Captain Jones ghost nonsense is a legend. There are no such things as ghosts, kid. You have nothing to worry about while we stay here to get the manor fixed up."
"I know, mom," the lad replied. "I'm not worried about ghosts, promise."
The boy skipped off leaving his mother to watch fondly after him, and Killian's chest tightened with a long dead sensation.
"Why do I feel like I'm gonna get my fill of ghost stories with this place," she murmured before heading off in the opposite direction of her lad, an amused look besetting her stunning features.
Killian stuck his hand in his pocket and began to fiddle with the small key that rested there. His mind wandered away from the woman and her child and back to his study, which was locked up tight once again. The reminder of what lay under the floorboards there, and the words inscribed upon it ran through his thoughts. A fleeting moment of hope fluttered through him as he considered whether or not this woman, this Emma Swan, could be the key to breaking his curse.
Killian chuckled to himself. The key. Here he was toying with this woman by engaging in a game of hide and seek with the very key that hid away the token the witch had said would be the key to breaking his curse. One had to appreciate the humor in that, he supposed.
He shook the fanciful notion from his mind. After three hundred years in his cursed state he had long abandoned the hope that he'd ever find the answer that would free him from his ghostly state. Still, there was nothing wrong with a bit of harmless fun. The Swan woman seemed hell bent on restoring his home to its former glory, and he'd hate for the endeavor to be all work and no play. Perhaps a bit of entertainment was in order. After all, how often does one get to engage in sport with a three hundred year old ghost story? Even if one doesn't believe in them.
Pulling out the key, he thoughtfully twirled it again between his fingers and mused, "You best start believing in ghost stories, Miss Swan." He stopped its twirling and clutched the key within his palm as a wide grin broke over his face. "Because you're in one."